Emollients are a moisturizing agent that soften the skin. They lock in the moisture of the skin by filling in the gaps between skin cells.
The emollient cream improves the appearance of dry patches. Using fats and lipids, a protective barrier on the skin’s outermost layer, which is most prone to dryness and flaking, is formed and traps the moisture in the skin. Some emollients use fatty acids that have a charged and uncharged end which is helpful in locking in the moisture since it creates a protective oily layer while keeping the water deep in the skin.
Examples of emollients are petrolatum (petroleum jelly), mineral oil, glycerine, zinc oxide, butyl stearate and diglycol laurate.
However, many doctors and scientists have expressed concerns regarding the use of mineral oil claiming it may be contaminated with toxins. In a 2011 study, researchers stated “there is strong evidence that mineral oil hydrocarbons are the greatest contaminant of the human body”. Also, mineral oil is said to clog pores because of its heavy characteristics. Bacteria that is trapped under the emollient may get into your pores and cause acne. Lastly, mineral oil does not really do anything beneficial to the skin. It does not provide nutrients or moisturize but rather sits on your skin to seal the moisture form seeping out.
Keep this in mind when purchasing moisturizers!